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Google Warns Against UN Net Conference 79

another random user writes "Google has warned that a forthcoming U.N.-organized conference threatens the 'free and open internet.' Government representatives are set to agree a new information and communications treaty in December. It has been claimed some countries will try to wrest oversight of the net's technical specifications and domain name system from U.S. bodies to an international organization. However, the U.N. has said there would be consensus before any change was agreed." Google is using its Take Action page to encourage people to speak out on this issue.
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Google Warns Against UN Net Conference

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  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @04:27PM (#42059545) Journal
    From: Google Staff
    To: All GMail Users

    Subject: UN Net Conference

    Okay, let's just clear the air here a bit. We know that you are thinking about the UN Net Conference coming up and frankly we're a little hurt. Don't even try and deny it, we've been reading your e-mails and we know you're talking to all your friends about it. And what is up with that? It's like a serious threat to our free and open internet, man! We've got a really good thing going here and you're going to fuck it all up!

    And we know how much you love a free and open internet, remember that time you e-mailed the EFF asking about a possibility that Google Staff was reading your e-mails? Yeah, that wasn't the EFF that told you that there was nothing to investigate and to go back to doing your lame-ass private things. That was us so the jig is up, we know you like a free and open internet and now we're asking you to help us preserve that and protect it from governments. And don't change the topic like you always do, this isn't about corporations. This is about the dirty nanny state governments that you complained to your coworker Allen about.

    And now you're thinking about this UN Net conference thing? Jesus, man, do you know who else is going to be reading your e-mail? Kim Jong Un. No, he's not asking for it but that's who we'll give it to if you go to this conference! Mark our words, the DPRK is going to be up to their eyeballs in what your Magic deck is looking like for Friday nights if you don't start protesting this shit ASAP.

    Ugh, you know, we hate to get ugly but, like, we do this because we love you. We were there reading along when you told your vet in an e-mail that $1,000 was too much for Fido's gum cancer treatment and then they turned around and charged your $365 to put his corpse in a garbage bag. We felt for you, man.

    We got a really beautiful thing going on here between us, man. So get out there and protest this thing! Let's just keep the internet free and open. If you do we'll keep that wart on your junk between just us (anonymous browsing? Please, we knew that was you). Governments don't need to get involved in this. Come on.

    We know you'll do the right thing because we know more about you than your closest friend,

    - The Google Team
    • by Hentes ( 2461350 )

      The nice thing about the internet in it's current form is that if you don't like a service there are dozens of alternatives around the globe to choose from. Let's keep it that way.

      • by jc42 ( 318812 )

        ... if you don't like a service there are dozens of alternatives around the globe to choose from. ...

        Yeah, you're right; if someone doesn't like the ISP that has an agreement with your local government to be the sole permitted supplier for your internet, you can just up and move to somewhere that there's an ISP that you like. Then, when they change their policies entirely next month (as their TOS says they have the right to do), you can pick another ISP that you like, and move to its turf.

        It's all very free and open. Well, at least if you stay within the national boundaries of wherever you currently

        • by Hentes ( 2461350 )

          No, because I don't live in America and have enough ISPs to choose from. This debate has nothing to do with the infrastructure of the Internet which was never controlled by the ICANN.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @04:36PM (#42059631)

    The UN, a wonderful organization where every dictatorship gets the same votes as a western country. What could possibly go wrong? Surely there are more liberal countries in the world than dictatorship and corruption...

    I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords. Allahu Akbar! (don't kill me)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @05:15PM (#42060009)
      So what you're saying is that the UN votes should be weighted based on how democratic they are? The US barely makes the top 20 in that regard (Democracy Index.)
      • So what you're saying is that the UN votes should be weighted based on how democratic they are? The US barely makes the top 20 in that regard (Democracy Index.)

        The right thing to do is the right thing to do, even if that might give "our team"* something to think about.

        * No, I don't think that way because it's mindless, but nonetheless it's all too common.

      • So what you're saying is that the UN votes should be weighted based on how democratic they are? The US barely makes the top 20 in that regard (Democracy Index.)

        I think a better criteria would be to weight them by how well their population live. Being able to vote isn't an end in itself, it's a means to an end: that of making the government improve things for the majority of the population and, if possible, to not cause them to become worse for its minorities. If you were to have a dictatorship, or even an absolute monarchy, in which both things were provided, what would the population gain by having a democratic process added to it? Worst case scenario, things wou

    • by sortius_nod ( 1080919 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @05:39PM (#42060243) Homepage

      Democracy is about counting the votes of people equally, good or bad. In essence you're advocating a dictatorship (as the Internet is run now by the US) over a democracy by claiming that dictatorships (countries) will have more of a say.

      I trust the US less than I trust the UN with the Internet. When "Internet Kill Switches" are being investigated by the US, it's clear this is not about democracy but protecting US assets/companies at the cost of the rest of the world.

      US citizens, as usual, see the US as the police of the world, the rest of us are the criminals. The truth is, the US are the criminals & we're trying to wrest control of a powerful tool from despotic megalomaniacs.

      • by Hentes ( 2461350 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @06:07PM (#42060605)

        You confuse people with states. If you really want a democratic control of the internet (a bad idea IMO), you shouldn't propose giving votes to leaders that weren't elected democratically. It's double standards to talk about democracy and at the same time making excuses for tyrannies.

        • "You confuse people with states"

          If the vast majority of the people are too dumb, idiotic, brainless to contain their own governments evil then they are culpable regardless of what anyone thinks.

      • by bhagwad ( 1426855 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @07:36PM (#42061549) Homepage

        Since when did dictatorships suddenly have the same moral standing as democratic countries? I mean on the one hand you want democratic control over the Internet. And on the other you want participants who themselves are not democratic...something's missing here.

        While I dislike many things about the US's control over the Internet, I would choose them over the UN in a heartbeat. It's a question of the lesser evil.

        • Heh, the joke of this is that the vast majority of the people on this planet are in favor of censorship. "The west" is between 800 million and a billion people. The Chinese want censorship, Indians (a democracy) want censorship, muslims want censorship. Those 3 groups together are close to 2/3rds of our planet's people.

          If the internet was governed democratically, as in 1 head = 1 vote, there would be no freedom on it. These countries have already proven that they'd rather cooperate on censorship, enforcing

        • by Xest ( 935314 )

          "Since when did dictatorships suddenly have the same moral standing as democratic countries?"

          I would imagine since democratic countries became the ones that invade other nations without just cause, that abduct foreign citizens and hold them for years without trial despite having never committed a crime, that torture people, and refuse to ban the use of weapons like white phosphorous and cluster bombs, that use entities like the WTO to enforce trade rules that benefit them and hurt others including those muc

          • Your point is valid only if dictatorships do not do the above things. I didn't ask whether or not democratic governments are perfect. I asked whether they're better than dictatorships.

            Dictatorships not only do all of the above, they do it more frequently, more openly and they do far worse as well.

            • by Xest ( 935314 )

              The point is that dictatorships don't do many of those things as well, that's why I picked them. You'll find some that do some of them perhaps, but for example, when is the last time China invaded a foreign nation, let alone without good cause? when is the last time China abducted foreign nationals? when was China last responsible for the kind of fiscal irresponsibility that led to the global financial crisis?

              At the end of the day it's arbitrary as to whether they're better, they do different things wrong t

              • Good points. The main difference in a democracy though is that people like you have an impact on what the government does. You're raising your voice against overseas wars. So are many others in the US. And through that you're able to somewhat change what the government does. There's feedback. At least at some level what the American people feel and think about what their country is doing, matters.

                In a dictatorship, there is literally no hope for course correction. Power vests permanently with someone who is

                • by Xest ( 935314 )

                  Even that varies from country to country, for example, I live in the UK and we have an electoral system where the country is split up into 650 regions, each of which has it's own member of parliament who is elected by first past the post. This means that the largest minority gets their MP elected, and the party that gets enough MPs to have over 50% of the seats in parliament gets effectively 100% of power.

                  The region I live in has an old mining village in it as well as a number of other villages. The mining

    • Are you saying that international agreements would be more effectively enforced by making them instead with disparate groups having no effective de facto control over anything in their countries?

      And that's without getting started on the dictatorship and corruption that only exist because of the sponsorship of "liberal" western countries...

    • There's another issue with the UN, which is that the International Telecommunications Union, the UN organisation that would take over control of the Internet, is run by the old national telephone companies. They're extremely conservative and would be very happy to grab control and kill all innovation, or at least slow it down a lot. See Mother Earth, Mother Board [wired.com] for how control of the undersea cable system that ties together most of the 'net was wrested from them (and because it's an excellent read). Imagi

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @04:39PM (#42059665)
    This would be a great way for the government of the US and other Western nations to make a show of "transferring control" of the internet to an agency of the UN, influenced heavily by Russia and China, to do their SOPA-style work for them. "Hey- we didn't push the latest round of censorship...don't bitch at us."
  • The Devil we Know... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jythie ( 914043 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @04:40PM (#42059681)
    While I feel that the US domination of the Internet is a problem.. and its current unilateral control over so many part of it is not just bad for foreigners but not that good for US citizens either... I am not convinced that the UN would do a better job and would likely make the situation even worse. Just look at the domain name dispute process.....
    • and its current unilateral control over so many part of it is not just bad for foreigners but not that good for US citizens either.

      The problem is that the internet is the best tool for democracy ever created. We are all peers now in a global and worldwide community, with the ability to freely communicate with each other. While this communication has moved forward slowly, fitfully, and often painfully, it is moving forward. But it will still take generations of this access before true social change is achieved. We still, for the most part, watch our own news, talk to people geographically local to us, and eschew the larger world. But it

    • by Wovel ( 964431 )

      Build your own Internet? Seriously.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Krojack ( 575051 )

      I always see non US citizens complain about the USA having control over the internet yet I never seen any examples of what the US control does to hinder their Internet experience. Is the US preventing you from doing something on the Internet? Is the US throttling your internet connection? Is your monthly Internet bill to the US to high? Are you upset because the US caps your monthly download limit?

      Please give some examples because I'm honestly confused.

    • by Xest ( 935314 )

      Well there is a way the US could defuse this whole situation and that's enshrine in it's constitution that the internet is something that is international in nature, and that no national governmental body in the US, be it the courts, or be it the may interfere in the running of it.

      This would eliminate the issue of ICE domain seizures, prevent the likes of SOPA and so on and so forth.

      The problem is the US wont put this on the table, as such it's time to hand over the keys to the ITU who at least offer the p

  • Misread (Score:4, Funny)

    by bhcompy ( 1877290 ) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @04:42PM (#42059705)
    Read that as UUNet.. instantly brought back memories of hatred and despair for them ruining my Quake ping times
  • Then we will have some incentive to make it obsolete. I mean, it already is, but at least we will do more to find an alternative.

    • if you call DNS obsolete... whats the replacement for DNS?
      do you call ipv4 obsolete too by chance?

      • Should just go back to AOL style "web".

        Then all the websites you are allowed to view are icons you can click on, meaning that you don't have to trouble yourself with typing in a URL. Then each government can roll out their own version of 'X'OL where X is the name of your dystopian country.

        Oh wait, Apple already patented that...

  • "Some proposals could permit governments to censor legitimate speech - or even allow them to cut off internet access.

    How is this different from the current internet?

    "Other proposals would require services like YouTube, Facebook, and Skype to pay new tolls in order to reach people across borders. This could limit access to information - particularly in emerging markets."

    Countries shouldn't be relying on international call rates either, the whole system is a racket, now they want to expand it. And the one bright light...

    It has been claimed some countries will try to wrest oversight of the net's technical specifications and domain name system from US bodies to an international organisation.

    Anything on U.S. soil is subject to U.S. law, and that hasn't always resulted in the best of scenarios, especially with DNS. The U.S. does own the physical infrastructure for these systems, so chances of us accepting the proposition are probably slim to none, but then again it may be for the best depending on

  • "The Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it." -- John Gilmore

  • Google can afford to "persuade" each member of the ITU to vote to its benefit (rent-seeking).

    On the other hand, maybe Google thinks it has amassed enough clout to go it alone and dictate its terms directly.
  • What specific services does the US control? What aspects does the ITU control? And how can we get those onto a peer-to-peer system? People have talked about peer-to-peer DNS before, but I'm unclear if that is the only item that needs to be relinquished. The items Google mentions all sound like peering agreements, so I'm unclear what is even on the table to discuss.

  • "consensus before any change was agreed". Now name me one government that wont get a boner to stricter net control. Being a non-US citizen I usually welcome similar news with warm "meh...". But this one gives me creeps. Having Saudi Arabia with a say what is acceptable GLOBALLY, with theirs, to me at least repulsive culture, is frightening. My hope lay in cultural differences that will make global deal on this issue unreachable.
  • Name them and them place the list next to the 7 + billion people on this planet..... so to see how small they really are.

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter